Early this month I Gushed & Griped about the pros and cons of joining book tours. Of course it's from a subjective standpoint and I can only share thoughts and experiences I've personally had and can't speak for anybody else.
I thought it would be a great idea to invite a virtual book tour organizer to volley some thoughts with us and get their side of the story.
Viviana is the owner of Enchantress of Books Blog Tours and she's one of the better organizers. Not only that but she's a blogger too so her view on the matter straddles both worlds. On top of that she's also offering some pretty good tips to authors who are thinking of doing paid tours. So bear with us, this post is pretty juicy.
Hi! My name is Viviana Izzo and I am the owner of Enchantress of Books Blog Tours. I’m still a blogger and I do partake in other companies’ blog tours. However, I found myself in a similar boat as Braine and many other bloggers. I was (and frankly, still am) frustrated that I had to hunt down the tour organizer to get the material in a timely manner. Or receive multiple emails because the information was ‘trickling in’ instead of sending everything in one email. Oh and the media kits! Jeez, many were horrible, missing information or the organizer didn’t send the images separately from the word document. So I had to spend even more time, copying the image to my Publisher program to then save it as an image so I could upload it to my blog!
Needless to say, when I started my blog tour company, the first thing I decided to do was to ensure I didn’t do the things that frustrated the bejeezes out of me as a reviewer to my tour hosts. For me, this is my business and I do take it very seriously. It’s not a hobby or something I do half-assed. There has been a growth spurt in blog tour companies lately. This is both good and bad. First, good as this proves that there is a business need for this particular type of service. Now, for the bad – not all tour companies are created equal and not everyone is good at this kind of stuff. Some companies have been around for a while, but that doesn’t mean they are professional nor know what they are doing. It’s not just about inviting bloggers to host the author. This is a marketing and promotional service that blog tour companies are providing. You have to be organized (as a business, you’re not just doing one tour at a time, you have several all at once or overlapping) and ensure things are running smoothly and keep your cool throughout the entire time! The focus should be on how to promote the author in the best and most effective way possible. The point is to make the author and their book stand out not your business.
I thought I’d outline just a few key things to both authors who are thinking about hiring a tour company and bloggers who host.
AUTHORS! Things to consider when hiring a tour company:
Don’t hire more than one company for a tour to promote the same book at the same time!
Sure, you don’t want to have all your eggs in one basket, you want to grab the largest audience possible!! You want to get your name out there!! I get all that!! However, hiring multiple tour companies to design/organize your blog tour can back fire. Why is that? For one, many bloggers host for a variety of touring companies. You run the risk of tours not being full. You’re time is being divided into multiple different companies that do things differently and of course the multiple guest posts and interviews you will have to complete.
In fact, it’s the policy of some companies, that you will not book a tour with another company and theirs at the same time.
If you are going to hire different companies, spread the tours out to ensure you have constant visibility for a certain length of time.
The badge and banners
- Are they showcasing your book or filling it up with clutter? Or worse yet, self promotion?
- Are they attractive and enticing?
- Are they easy to read?
As an author, you should consider the badge and banner of your tour as an advertisement. Bloggers will be posting these on their websites and social media outlets to announce your tour and promote your book!! If you can’t easily tell what you’re displaying, then it’s not helping you with marketing your book.
As a tour organizer, your commitment is to the author and to ensure that you are providing them with the BEST service and this includes the graphic art work. If you are not savvy in that department than hire someone! Don’t skim on this because I will tell you that as a blogger, if the badge or banner is ugly, is not easily read, does not showcase the book, etc., I WILL NOT sign up for the tour. I worked hard to make my blog look nice and professional! That badge and banner is a reflection on your business. If you don’t produce a good looking badge or banner, what else is going to lack?
You’ve heard the saying; you get what you pay for, right? Well, this is true with blog tour companies as well. The price may be “great” (meaning low) but what does that truly mean and what are you getting for that price.
Things to consider:
- How hands-on are they?
- Are they easily available for your questions and concern?
- What information do they provide you with for the tour and the duration of the tour
- Do they manage the giveaway? If so, how?
- What exactly are they doing to ensure maximum visibility for your book?
- How many tour hosts do they have?
- Is there a variety within the hosts? (i.e. not only YA or PNR, but a nice mix of bloggers)
- Are they active?
Yes unfortunately, I’ve bloggers sign up for tours and then they don’t post for weeks or even months.
Bloggers: Yes, it takes time to set up a post when done right! Yes, you’re doing this for free! THANK YOU!!! Now, with that being said, you are getting something in return. Actually, you’re getting lots of things. As a blog tour host you’re getting:
- Traffic (views) on your blog
- ARCs - for those that may not know, an ARC is an advance readers copy of the book. Yes, there may be some typos and there may be a slight tweak here and there from the final printed book, but basically, not only are you getting to read the book BEFORE it’s released, you’re getting it for FREE! Yes, yes, you will spend time reviewing it, but let’s not kid ourselves, we as bloggers sign up to review a book because we’re interested in it and sooner or later, we would have had to purchase the book in order to read it.
- Increased followers on your social media outlets
- Networking – yes, you’re getting to know other bloggers and even authors! You’re getting your name out there and soon enough, you’ll have that moment when you get that “recognized’ for the review you did or for your blog/website!
- Material to post on your website! Authors provide you with either a guest post and an author interview. Tours even include promotional spotlight and while some may grimace or refuse to host this type of post, it’s still material being provided for you to include.
So please, do not try to make out as if you’re doing this as a favor with no benefits to you at all.
READ and REVIEW the media kit!! This is extremely important as it does have all the information you will need to include in the post as well as provide you with answers to questions you may have! If you signed up for an Author Interview, don’t have the tour organizer have to hunt you down to get your questions. Send them ASAP to ensure that nothing slips between the cracks on your end and that the organizer has enough time to provide the author with to complete it. This in turn, ensures you get it back in a timely manner as well! Oh and when participating in tours, provide the organizer (whether it’s a company, publisher, publicist or author, etc) with the permalink to your post asap and include your blog’s name in the email.
Also, if you’re provided with the HTML Code for the post (I provide my hosts with this for the “essential” part of the post), don’t just copy/paste it and not check it!! Not everyone’s site is the same so check to ensure the post (information) fits within your column! This is especially true when things like graphics and scroll boxes are included. Adjust when and where needed! If instructions on how to adjust the scroll box isn’t included, either reach out to the organizer or to quote Lucas Wolf from Emily Snow’s DEVOUR Series “Google is your friend” so Google it!! While the organizer is providing you with the html code to make things easier, it’s still your responsibility to ensure everything is correct and this includes being able to read what’s on the post and that YOUR website looks good!
As a host, you’ve committed yourself to ensure that your post is published on time and includes everything that has been listed in the media kit as essential! Neither the Authors nor Tour Organizers should have to hunt you down to find out why your post isn’t live on the date you’re scheduled to host! We know nothing in life is certain (except death and taxes of course), so do NOT relay on the fact that you “scheduled” the post in advance. It’s technology and things happen! Check your post in the AM of the day you’re scheduled for. That’s your responsibility! With this being said, we know stuff happens, please let us know in advance if you are unable to post something on time!
When participating in a blog tour, not only are you committing that you will post when you are scheduled for but that you will include everything you’ve been asked to post within ONE post. DO NOT separate the “essential” parts of the post (this is included in the media kit) from what you are scheduled for, i.e. review, guest post, author interview, etc. The tour isn’t about you. It’s all about the author and the book they are promoting. Also it’s about the readers!
I had one blogger get upset (they separated the posts into two) when I politely asked them to combine the two into one post. They stated that they do this to provide the reader with the option of reading either one or other and that they had linked them to one another. Uhm, actually, you’re making the reader click multiple times and that’s just frustrating. Additionally the posts were not linked and there was no reference of the blog tour on the ‘main’ post. Bottom line, we’re here to show case the author and their work, the reader will still choose which part of the post they will or not read. Make it easier for the reader by having everything in one place and one click away!
Here is something that is important and I can’t say enough about!! Make sure your website is nicely organized, clean and looks professional! Yes, this may be a hobby for you, but you’re putting yourself out there, let what you’re presenting be the best! This is especially true and important if you’re signing up to host authors! You wouldn’t want to have people visit your house and have it be a mess, would you?
Braine brought up several great points and I agree with all of them with regards to tour companies and I will second it and add a few points as well!
- Use BCC! Do not include everyone in the TO field. While many of our emails may be ‘out there on the world wide web”, let’s keep everyone’s privacy in consideration. Also, you don’t want your tour host to scroll down 200 email address to get to the body of the email.
- You’re inviting bloggers to host the author on their tour, do not assume they will accept and send everything in the invite email if they didn’t sign up for the tour.
- The blog tour is an event. Think of it as such, when you send out the invitation to the bloggers!! Provide them with all the information they will need to make the decision to join the tour! This includes:
- Tour Dates
Cover (granted, sometimes, the tour company may get hired prior to the cover being reveal, but if you have it, include it.)
Goodreads link (allows blogger the opportunity to look into the author a bit more to see what else they may have written)
Sign up form link
- Ensure the media kit includes everything the host will need for their post! This includes the following:
- What the post should include
- Book blurb
- Giveaway information - Use rafflecopter!! Make everyone’s life easier!!! Having the blogger choose the winners based on the comments isn’t efficient and that adds responsibility to each host. Keep everything together and ensure visibility to the tour with the giveaway enteries. Use the rafflecopter giveaway widget to promote the author and help them gain more followers
- Time post should be live/published by (BLOGGERS – there’s a reason for this and it’s to ensure max exposure for the author. IF the time is set to 4am EST then that means 4am EST not PST or whatever time you’re living in. Do the math and post at the time requested).
- Badge, banner and book cover
- Book Purchase Links
- Author Bio, picture and social links
- Do not send multiple emails to the hosts unless absolutely necessary!
- Attach all images individually for ease of uploading to blog
Okay, so this is longer than I had originally anticipated, however, seems like there was a lot to say and share. Authors, please do the research and check out the tour companies before you hire them. Remember, you are getting what you paid for!! Get references! Bloggers, thank you for continuing to support the authors and each other!! This is a wonderful community of readers, authors, reviewers and bloggers!
If you’re a blogger and wish to become part of the Enchantress of Books Blog Tours team by becoming a host, please sign up here.
You can stalk me, sorry, I mean follow me at
I hope this post has given all of us some perspective especially for self-published authors who are planning their own marketing. Viviana pointed out some pretty good stuff which you should take into consideration before signing up and paying someone to pimp your work for you.